RAF Centenary Part I

Members of the British royal family attended a series of events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force this morning in London, including a service at Westminster Abbey, presentation of new colours on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace and a spectacular military a flypast and feu de joie down The Mall.

The Queen led her family in a hat we saw just over a month ago.  With a dark blue silk covered crown, the design features a wider-than-usual double straw brim (turquoise on top, dark blue on the bottom) with turquoise silk covered kettle upturned straight edge. The hat’s tall crown is wrapped in an overlay of diagonal pleats of overlapping dark blue and turquoise silk and the design is finished with a pair of peacock feathers at the side.

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Today’s photos highlight how tall the crown on this hat is, height that, I think, puts it slightly out of proportion. Issues of shape and scale aside, I continue to admire the punchy colour scheme. Say what you will, the ensemble allowed Her Majesty to stand out in a sea of uniforms, which today, was no small task.

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Designer: Angela Kelly
Previously Worn: May 31, 2018June 25, 2015

The Duchess of Cornwall repeated her ivory straw hat with asymmetrically peaked crown and a wide, sideswept brim trimmed in multiple layers of sand coloured straw ribbon wrapped around the base of the crown and looped into a large stylized bow at the side. The Prince of Wales wore the uniform and cap of his ranking as Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

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It’s a beautiful hat on Camilla, who pulls off a head-to-hem cream ensemble better than anyone else. The pairing of this dramatic hat with the streamlined cream dress is a particularly elegant one that elegantly stood apart from the sea of navy uniforms.

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Designer: Philip Treacy
Previously Worn: June 17, 2017; June 15, 2016June 17, 2015June 6, 2014

The Duchess of Cambridge was in attendance, wearing a hat by theater and television milliner Sean Barrett (made famous by the wonderful hats he created for the TV series ‘Downton Abbey’). The hat’s base, in palest blue straw overlaid in two layers of net tulle veil, follows the slightly domed shape of a Juliette cap. The design is trimmed with a multi looped bow in blue straw, white silk organza flowers with tiny blue centers and tufts of blue net veil.

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I love seeing Kate work with new milliners, especially such unexpected collaborations as this. There’s a lot going on on this small hat but it works beautifully with Kate’s streamlined coat and manages not to compete with the spectacular RAF Air Cadets Dacre diamond brooch. Some might argue that the hat would work better on the side of her head but I suspect, from the shape of the base that this was its intended placement and it works.

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Designer: Sean Barrett. Coat by Alexander McQueen
Previously Worn: This hat is new

The Duchess of Sussex wore a new cocktail hat with completely different feel and shape to anything we’ve seen her in so far. The light-as-air design features a folded swirl of pleated navy crin supported on a flat straw teardrop shaped base with point facing down the back of Meghan’s head.

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The design’s wonderful sense of movement contrasts so beautifully against Meghan’s streamlined dress, lightening the elegantly austere design. The dress’ wide, bateau neckline works so well with the hat, which appears to be almost flying on its own (a subtle RAF reference from Stephen Jones, perhaps?), and the retro feel of the ensemble fits wonderfully for this event. I think it’s an outstanding look for Meghan.

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Designer: Stephen Jones. Dress by Dior.
Previously Worn: This hat is new
I believe the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex’s uniforms and caps reflected their ranks of Squadron Leader.
We’ll look at hats worn by the Countess of Wessex, Princess Royal, Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, and Princess Michael in the next post but there’s enough here to get discussion started- what do you think of these first four hats?
Photos from Getty as indicated

14 thoughts on “RAF Centenary Part I

  1. LOVE the shape and of Meghan’s hat, but I would like to see her in a more cheerful color for these events. I can’t tell if the outfit is navy or black (I think it is navy, but who knows with pictures), but I think she has the poise to pull off the sleek, chic look with colors that are light and cheerful for daytime events. I loved that bright yellow she wore to an event recently and would love to see her explore more of those colors.

  2. The Queens outfit would look so much better to me if it was all blue and no aqua ! it makes my eyes move around too much ! (,does that sound right ??)
    Camilla looks wonderful I love the way she dresses – so laid back and effortless …
    Kate’,s hat is lovely … I just love her whole look these days – so feminine !
    Meghan looks delightful – that hat is gorgeous !

  3. HM: there’s one helluvalotta look going on here. So many separate visual components to this ensemble! Do the contrasting bands of colour – the aqua lapels, the contrast buttons, the hat brim and diagonal band — remind anyone else of the ‘eighties? Actually, I really like the coat, but I wish it was paired with a single-colour hat in aqua, to bring the look up-to-date. The coat lapels have lovely curves, which are picked up in the diagonals on the hat crown — but the matching attempt still doesn’t work for me; I see the hard straight narrow edge of the brim with no curve as an outlier which doesn’t connect enough to the coat. To me the hat looks better when the coat isn’t worn, (as we saw at the hat’s last outing).
    Camilla: I can never get enough of seeing a plain frock paired very simply with a fabulous hat, and Camilla shows again that she can do a more minimal look just as well as an ornate one. A great hat, styled in a fresh and modern way.
    Katherine: a gorgeous hat, with a great hairstyle and earrings; but I do feel that the v-neckline of her coat virtually demands a tilted hat position. A curved, soft or even asymmetrical neckline would work more sympathetically, I feel, with the centred placement.
    Meghan: Another gorgeous hat, another gorgeous look (plain dress+ fabulous hat, again). The details of her styling are perfect. I love how the hat is placed, and how the part in her hair is off-centre to support that.

  4. I’m surprised to see this hat and outfit on HM again so soon after not seeing it for 3 years. I do agree that many of the photos this time show off the height of the crown awkwardly, but I think this had a lot to do with angles (of cameras and tilt of the hat). I also don’t understand all the hate for the peacock feathers; I think they are a very fun addition!

    This is definitely one of Camilla’s best cream hats (and that’s saying something). I also like the winged brooch, but I wish there was something a little more going on with the dress, as it’s extremely plain, which, when paired with the all-white color, makes it rather boring.

    Kate looks lovely as usual, but it does feel like we have seen this so many times. A more saturated blue would’ve make a big difference to elevate this look.

    This is an interesting hat for Meghan. I’m not a big fan of the base shape, but the design of the crinoline is definitely unique; I just wish it didn’t sit quite so centered on her head. Also, I think it’s actually black as opposed to navy (outdoor lighting can make black crin hats look navy); this would make much more sense with her black dress (which I love).

  5. Meghan is wearing a very interesting hat. Not the kind of hat you see every day. It’s great to see her trying different styles. I’m not sure I completely love it though. In some pictures the base is not visible and that makes it look kinda weird. But it works in combination with the dress and she wears it well.

    You could wonder why Kate think she needs this coat in another color. Must be a very comfortable one. But it’s a very nice hat and a really elegant look.

  6. I must say the first time this outfit was worn I wasn’t too keen on the coat.
    I thought I much preferred it worn only with the dress like in May but yesterdays appearance absolutely changed by view of the outfit, I think its now one of my favourites, I do hope she wears the full ensemble again soon.

  7. I think this is the first time I like anything that has worn by the Duchess of Sussex ever since she married Prince Harry (not even her wedding dress)! She looks fabulous today and this hat suits her very well. I agree with Deborah Makarios; The Queen looks better in bright colors!

  8. Good to see HM’s natty ensemble again, it’s become a fave of hers; I still think those feathers could be culled though.

    Kate – oh my, how many times does she need this coat (not that I’m still 100% sure that the cream/primrose ones are in fact two different coats). She looks good, but we’ve seen this look a lot.

    Meghan just looks spectacular. She’s emerging as a real force in regal dressing; at the start I thought she was going to adopt a very casual approach, but she’s going the other way now and I love it. Her look is very clean and sharp, quite angular shapes, somewhat directional but absolutely stunning.

  9. Does anyone else see a spinning helicopter blade in the Duchess of Sussex’s hat? I think it is lovely and the overall look is stunning, but my first thought was helicopter blade, how appropriate for the air force…it’s been a long day…

  10. I quite like Her Majesty the Queen’s hat (except for the peacock feathers, which aren’t visible in many of the photos). I think the color combination of the hat and the coat are magnificent, and I think the height’s hat and proportions in general are perfect. (Yes, she could lose those peacock feathers.)
    The real star of the day, though, was Meghan, newly minted Duchess of Sussex. In my estimation she continues to knock out one homerun after another.

  11. An excellent bevy of tasteful hats, though one hopes for the sake of the Duchesses of Cornwall and Sussex that it wasn’t a windy day. I must admit I don’t think the colours of HM’s ensemble suit her quite as well as many of her recent choices.

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